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signing for car warranty

Are Extended Car Warranties Worth the Money?

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Reliability is an important factor when buying a new or used vehicle. In fact, 95 percent of car shoppers rank reliability high, which is why having a warranty is important. But while all new vehicles come with a factory warranty, used vehicles often don’t. 

Most new vehicles come with a three-year manufacturer warranty, or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The majority of used vehicles are already past this. But what if you want added protection with your used car? An extended warranty may be the answer. 

What is an Extended Car Warranty? 

Extended car warranties, also known as vehicle service contracts, are optional protection plans that can help you pay for car repairs. They typically start once the manufacturer warranty ends, but there are times when the two overlap. 

Vehicle service contracts often have requirements you’ll have to follow, so be sure to read all the fine print. For example, some warranties will require you to visit a certain repair shop in your network. You’ll also need to bring your vehicle in for routine maintenance. Failure to follow your maintenance schedule can render your warranty null and void. 

Typically, you’ll be required to provide your car with the following: 

  • Oil changes
  • Filter changes
  • Tire rotations
  • System checks 
  • Manufacturer scheduled maintenance 

What Do Extended Car Warranties Cover? 

Each vehicle service contract is different, so it’s important to read the fine print of your specific warranty. Also, some warranties are basic while others are comprehensive, covering things like your car’s entertainment system and climate control system. 

The two main types of extended car warranties are: 

  • Bumper-to-bumper warranty. This is the most comprehensive type of warranty available, and it covers almost everything, from the electrical system to the paint job. It does not cover vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes and filter changes.
  • Powertrain warranty. This warranty is less comprehensive but still offers significant coverage. Expect your transmission, engine and drivetrain to be covered. It also tends to last longer than a bumper-to-bumper warranty. 

Should I Get an Extended Warranty with My Used Car? 

According to a survey from Consumer Reports, 55 percent of people said they never used their extended warranty, and only 25 percent said they would buy one in the future. While extended car warranties look good on paper, they are overpriced. They also may not cover everything, which means you’ll be paying for the warranty and the repairs. 

Of course, there are situations when an extended warranty makes sense. And, you might even get other perks with the warranty, such as roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and towing. This can make the added coverage worth it. Ultimately, you’ll have to sit down and determine whether you’re better off putting your money into an extended warranty or into a bank account to be used for repairs.